ESCANABA - The deadline for private forest landowners to sign up for funds to pay for a plan required by a state tax incentive program is fast approaching.
The State of Michigan's Qualified Forest Program (QFP) encourages "private forestland owners to manage their land in an economically viable and environmentally sustainable manner," according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development's website, www.michigan.gov/mdard.
Forest landowners enrolled in the program receive an exemption from local school operating taxes and/or exemptions from the uncapping of the taxable value of the property in the event of a change in ownership.
One of the requirements for this program, however, is for private forest landowners to have a plan written for their property, according to Delta Conservation District (DCD) Executive Director Rory Mattson.
"To get into QFP, you definitely have to have a plan written for your property," he said. "Whether you're brand new or you're in any other tax incentive programs...you've got to have this plan to get in."
Landowners have the opportunity to apply for funding to have this plan written as part of a federal cost-share program.
To do so, landowners must sign up at the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office located at 2003 Minneapolis Ave., in Gladstone, but Mattson urges Delta and Schoolcraft county forest landowners going through QFP to stop by the DCD office prior to signing up to answer any questions they may have.
"I can talk to them about their forestry needs, what they need to do, their wildlife needs, and then when they go over to that office they'll know exactly how to sign up," he said. In order to guarantee funding for their plan, forest landowners should be signed up by Feb. 14, said Mattson.
Additionally, forest landowners currently enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act (CFA) program have a chance to make the switch over to QFP at no penalty until June 4.
"If they want to get out (of CFA) they can just pay the administrative cost to get out and transfer over, but they have to have a plan too," he said.
Mattson noted there have been some changes to both the QFP and CFA programs in recent years.
Because of this, he will be hosting an informational meeting on QFP and CFA at Bay College's Heirman Center on March 13 from 7 to 9 p.m. to go over the programs and answer questions.
For more information on the informational meeting or on the QFP process, call the DCD at (906) 553-7700 or visit their office located at Pioneer Trail Park, 6822 U.S. 2 & 41, in Gladstone.